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  • Originally published 04/07/2013

    Preservationists protesting Postal Service's efforts to sell old buildings, cut losses

    The financially strapped U.S. Postal Service is running into opposition from historic preservationists as the agency tries to cut losses by selling off buildings.The postal service lost $15.9 billion last year, after losing $5.1 billion in 2011 -- as online services continue to replace money-making mail deliveries.Hundreds of post offices are on the National Register of Historic Places, which largely protects them from being demolished, or are protected under deals with new owners....

  • Originally published 02/13/2013

    Richard R. John: How the Post Office Made America

    Richard R. John, a professor of journalism at Columbia, is the author of “Spreading the News: The American Postal System From Franklin to Morse.”THE Postal Service’s announcement that it plans to end Saturday mail delivery reminds us of its vulnerability to the technological convulsions of the information age. The agency lost nearly $16 billion last year; stopping Saturday delivery, starting in August, would save about $2 billion a year. To preserve the letter of the law, which requires six-day service, the agency would continue Saturday parcel delivery — a shrewd decision, since, thanks to booming e-commerce, the parcel business is one of the few sectors that is actually growing.Polls suggest that 7 in 10 Americans support the change, but a predictable outcry has emerged from members of Congress, labor unions, periodical publishers and direct-mail marketers. Other critics warn that ceasing Saturday service will be the first step down an irreversible “death spiral.”

  • Originally published 02/11/2013

    Philip Rubio: Austerity Saturdays from the Postal Service

    Philip Rubio is an assistant professor of history at North Carolina A&T State University, and author of There's Always Work at the Post Office: African American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice, and Equality (2010, University of North Carolina Press). It’s Saturday February 9th as I write this. Every postal worker knows by heart their first official day of work as their “anniversary date.” Not for sentimental reasons, but for purposes of seniority, retirement, and all the benefits thereof. It’s an important date. I retired early from the post office in Durham, North Carolina after 20 years to go to graduate school (30 years is standard retirement at the US Postal Service). But even though it’s been almost 13 years since I last punched off the clock, I still remember my anniversary date: February 9, 1980. Making $8.10 an hour to start: up from $2.95 an hour a decade, the result of over 200,000 postal workers staging an eight-day nationwide wildcat strike beginning March 18, 1970–the largest wildcat in U.S. history, leading to the 1971 transformation into the US Postal Service as a self-supporting independent government agency.